Opening Night Preview: Cubs vs. Cardinals


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Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

WHO -- Defending World Series Champion Chicago Cubs vs. St. Louis Cardinals on Opening Night

WHERE -- Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri with possible rain in the forecast

WHEN -- Sunday 8:30 pm ET on ESPN
Tuesday 8:15 pm ET
Wednesday 1:45 pm ET

PITCHING MATCHUP

John Lester (LHP) vs. Carlos Martinez (RHP)

PITCHING BREAKDOWN

It’s time to pop the popcorn, grab your baseball cap, and lucky t-shirt (of course) as its almost Opening Night! Starting pitcher John Lester will take the mound for the Cubs with his impressive ERA of 2.44 and is projected to be number three starter in the entire major leagues for fantasy baseball in 2017. Cubs fans have high hopes for John Lester to improve and keep his ERA at current levels.

The Cubs' batters will face fireballer Carlos Martinez who had an ERA of 3.32 with 16 wins and only nine losses last season. Cubs had a mediocre .252 batting average against Martinez with their best hitter being Jason Hayward at a blistering .412 average. Let's not be fooled, Carlos has improved his location on his pitches and his accuracy to get lefties to swing at the right side of the plate has dramatically improved. Enough talk about pitchers, let's discuss how the Cubs can win this game against their hated rival.

WHAT NEEDS TO HAPPEN

Batters Kyle Schwarber and Matt Szczur both have not faced Martinez in their young major league career. You're probably thinking I am nuts, both these guys are amazing hitters and practically ninjas at finding holes in the outfield. There is always a little worry when a batter goes against a pitcher for the first time. Part of what needs to happen for the Cubs to get the opening win is for these two players step up and get some timely hits.

Kris Bryant is second, tied with Addison Russell on plate appearances with 19 a piece. Kris Bryant does not have the strongest history with Martinez with a dismal .158 batting average. Anthony Rizzo is someone to keep an eye on to carry the burden if Bryant struggles in the opening series. Rizzo has a steady .277 average and has done well batting against Martinez. All it takes is one big hit from Rizzo or Schwarber and Cub’s bats will be ready to rock-n-roll.

Remember, former Cubs standout Dexter Fowler will be dressed in Cardinals attired for the first time after signing a lucrative five-year 82.5 million free agent deal.

Don’t forget the popcorn and your lucky shirt because Cubs baseball is almost here!


Tags: Jon Lester, Kyle Schwarber, Kris Bryant, Addison Russell, Matt Szczur
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